Foster says Retallick 'heart and soul' of All Blacks ahead of 100th cap
New Zealand coach Ian Foster hailed Brodie Retallick as the "heart and soul" of the All Blacks as the lock prepared to win his 100th Test cap.
Retallick has been recalled to the starting XV for Saturday's match against England at Twickenham following suspension.
The 31-year-old second-row was banned for two weeks for dangerous play during the All Blacks' 38-31 win over Japan in Tokyo last month after being sent of for charging into a ruck and missed New Zealand's recent wins over Wales and Scotland.
Retallick will become the 12th All Black to reach the milestone and just the second lock alongside captain Samuel Whitelock.
The pair will also set a new second-row world record of 64 Test starts together this weekend, with the previous best of 63 held by South Africa's Bakkies Botha and Victor Matfield.
"He (Retallick) has been there since 2012," Foster told reporters at the squad's London hotel after naming his side on Thursday.
"He's been a massive part of that engine room of an All Black pack for a long time. He's multi-skilled, he's got that tough edge to him, but he's also got that skill edge around the park, that's been a big feature of his game."
Foster added: "He is a major contributor behind the scenes. He's the heart and soul of our group. And the fact that he's putting his arm around Sammy Whitelock, that's a pretty much a record-breaking partnership as well. They've been a big part of that pack for a long time."
England captain Owen Farrell is also set to win his 100th cap for his country this weekend, with Foster saying of the centre cum fly-half: "He's clearly done an amazing job for England. Anyone who can play 100 Tests, it's phenomenal."
With Retallick returning from suspension, Scott Barrett has moved to the blindside flanker role.
There are positional changes to the back division that helped the All Blacks avoid a first defeat by Scotland with a 31-23 win at Murrayfield last weekend.
Beauden Barrett starts at full-back, with brother Jordie moving from the No 15 shirt to partner Riekko Ioane in the centres.
- 'Good space' -
Foster's own position was the subject of intense speculation following New Zealand's 2-1 series loss at home to Ireland earlier this year but a 35-23 win away to arch-rivals and world champions South Africa in August helped keep the coach in his job.
New Zealand went on to win the southern hemisphere Rugby Championship and they head into their final match of 2022 looking to remain unbeaten in their Autumn Nations programme, with the Japan and Scotland wins separated by a 55-23 rout of Wales in Cardiff.
"We're in a good space and I like where our game's going," said Foster ahead of next year's World Cup in France.
Saturday's match will be the first time England and New Zealand have met since England's 19-7 World Cup semi-final win in Yokohama three years ago.
As for whether that result would have any bearing this weekend, Foster said: "I don't think it's relevant at all to where we're at.
"And it's probably not relevant at all to where England's at right now, because they're a team that's searching for consistency and I'm not sure they'll get a high motivation out of the 2019 game."
New Zealand (15-1)
Beauden Barrett; Mark Telea, Rieko Ioane, Jordie Barrett, Caleb Clarke; Richie Mo'unga, Aaron Smith; Ardie Savea, Dalton Papali'i, Scott Barrett; Sam Whitelock (capt), Brodie Retallick; Tyrel Lomax, Codie Taylor, Ethan de Groot
Replacements: Samisoni Taukei'aho, George Bower, Nepo Laulala, Shannon Frizell, Hoskins Sotutu, TJ Perenara, David Havili, Anton Lienert-Brown
Coach: Ian Foster (NZL)
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